Caulk selections and gun (C) Daniel Friedman Choosing a Caulk or Adhesive Gun: Models, Types, Advice

  • CAULK GUN TYPES, CHOICES - CONTENTS: Description of types of caulk or adhesive dispensing guns. Trigger type manual caulk guns, durability, features, quality. Battery operated power caulk gun. Compressed air operated power caulk gun choices. Caulks & sealants on buildings: joint design, silicones, polyurethane caulk, butyl caulk, acrylic latex caulk
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about types of caulk or adhesive or sealant guns or applicators - manual or powered caulk guns

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Choices of caulking guns - a buyer's guide:

This article describes different types of caulk guns, caulk gun features, and caulk gun models, giving some opinion and advice about choosing a caulk gun that fits your needs.

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Choosing a Caulking Gun for Easy Fast Caulking Work & Good Results

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

This article series discusses best practices construction details for building exteriors, including water and air barriers, building flashing products & installation, wood siding material choices & installation, vinyl siding, stucco exteriors, building trim, exterior caulks and sealants, exterior building adhesives, and choices and application of exterior finishes on buildings: paints, stains.

Readers should see CAULKS & SEALANTS, EXTERIOR and also see GLUES ADHESIVES, EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION. Some caulks and sealants also act as glues or adhesives.

There is a stunning, actually an overwhelming array of types and qualities of caulk guns available.

3M, Albion, Apex-Cooper Hand Tools, GE, Newborn, Rigid, Z-Pro, and other companies produce or distribute hundreds of caulk guns and other items of caulking equipment. Contact information for these companies is listed at Resources for Building Exterior Caulks and Sealants. Here are some observations and opinions from DJF who, like many, has spent a lot of caulking time on construction projects:

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

Caulk gun (C) D Friedman

Above center: caulk gun with extension rod for reaching. Above right, our standard (and favorite) manually-opeated 3-M caulk gun.

Definitions of Caulking, Chalking, Spackling

Question: What's the Difference between caulking, chalking, and spackling?

I would like to know the difference between spackling and chalking and caulking and where each should be used. - A.C.


Definition of Spackling: Spackling refers to use of joint compound to seal tape joints between sections of drywall or to smooth other irregularities in drywall before the wall or ceiling is painted. Spackling is also used on occasion as a superficial repair on plaster although repairing plaster with actual plaster may be preferred.

See DRYWALL, FIBERBOARD, PLASTER INTERIORS for help in identifying these materials and a bit about their history. Also see

Watch out: don't rely on joint compound or spackling compound to seal building leaks where temperature changes, vibration, or anything else will cause movement of the building materials. Unlike flexible caulks that are designed to adhere to various types of surfaces and to tolerate small amounts of movement between the sealed surfaces, joint compound or spackling compound is designed for cosmetic repairs only, and it is likely to crack if installed where a flexible caulk should have been used indoors, and to weather and fail if used on an outdoor surface.

Definition of caulking: Caulks are sealants used to close gaps or cracks against leaks. The leak may be an air leak or a water leak in a building, or historically, in other structures such as a boat where in addition to hull leaks a boat often leaked at the connection of hull to boat deck. Caulk types and uses are discussed in more detail at CAULKS & SEALANTS, EXTERIOR. Types of caulk guns used to apply caulk are discussed above at CAULK GUN TYPES, CHOICES.

Before modern silicon, latex, or polyurethane caulks were invented boat leaks were sealed by hammering oakum, hemp or even cotton into the open gaps using a loggerhead.

Watch out: while it is often convenient to use caulk for cosmetic sealing of gaps and cracks indoors, such as along baseboard trim installed along uneven wall surfaces, be sure to use paintable caulk if the surfaces are intended to be painted. For example, some silicone caulks that perform very well as sealants also form a surface to which paint will not adhere.

Definition of chalking: Chalking is usually used to refer to the white oxidization that appears on some painted surfaces as they wear or weather, it's not something you'd do to drywall or plaster. Paint chalking is discussed at PAINT FAILURE DICTIONARY and at PAINT FALURE, DIAGNOSIS, CURE, PREVENTION.

Chalking is sometimes used in some parts of the world to refer to steps to make surface more "white", and it is also used to refer to plowing chalk into soil as part of applying manure - a step that has nothing to do with building maintenance.

If you live in a country where any of these words are used with a different meaning please CONTACT us to let us know about it.

Resources for Building Exterior Caulks and Sealants

Construction Sealant (Caulks) Suppliers & Products

Polyurethanes and other high-performance sealants

These sompanies produce urethane caulks used widely on masonry surfaces and in the automotive industry.

Acrylic latex caulks

Exterior Adhesives

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


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